Birch Stewart on the McKesson Tech v. Epic Systems Decision

Leonard R. Svensson, Partner at Birch Stewart Kolasch & Birch, sent in this post discussing the recent McKesson Technologis v. Epic Systems decision and how it may impact those in the medical diagnostic or treatment fields.

On April 12th the Federal Circuit issued another decision related to joint infringement situations. This should be another warning to those drafting method claims, particularly in the medical diagnostic or treatment fields. The decision perhaps also portends a future en banc review of the issue. This follows the pattern of several decisions discussed by my partner, Jerry Murphy (Practice Center Contributor), and I at PLI’s 5th Annual Patent Law Institute during our lecture on Federal Circuit decisions in 2010 in the life sciences field.  (Click on the link to view Mr. Svensson and Mr. Murphy’s presentation “All Things Chemical & Biotechnical At The PTO“).

In the April 12th case of McKesson Technologies v. Epic Systems, the patent owner McKesson tried to enforce a patent on a method of electronically communicating between health care providers and patients. Epic Systems developed software and licensed it to heath care providers who used the software to communicate with patients. But since the steps of the method claims were performed by a combination of the patients and the health care providers, the Federal Circuit agreed with the District Court’s finding on summary judgment of no infringement by Epic Systems. (more…)

Federal Circuit Restricts Joint Infringement Doctrine in Golden Hour Data v. emsCharts

Brandon Baum, partner in Mayer Brown and Practice Center Contributor, passed along this analysis on the Federal Circuit decision Golden Hour Data Systems, Inc. v. emsCharts, Inc.

In the recent case of Golden Hour Data Systems, Inc. v. emsCharts, Inc., the Federal Circuit reiterated—and arguably restricted—its jurisprudence concerning “joint infringement.”  The joint infringement doctrine is an exception to the general rule that “[d]irect infringement requires a party to perform or use each and every step or element of a claimed method or product.”  BMC Resources, Inc. v. Paymentech, L.P., 498 F.3d 1373, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2007).  Where the steps or elements are performed by multiple actors, there may still be a finding of direct infringement under the joint infringement doctrine if the accused infringer had “direction or control” over the other actors.  Muniauction, Inc. v. Thomson Corp., 532 F.3d 1318, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2008).  In a 2-1 panel decision, the court found that the fact that the defendants collaborated to sell their software together as part of a “strategic partnership” was insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish joint infringement.

In the underlying district court case, plaintiff Golden Hour Data Systems, Inc. (“Golden Hour”) accused two defendants, emsCharts, Inc. (“emsCharts”) and Softtech, LLC (“Softtech”) of acting jointly to infringe its patent (U.S. 6,117,073) on systems and methods for emergency medical management.  emsCharts provides software that charts patient diagnosis and billing information, but does no flight dispatching.  Softtech provides flight dispatch software used in emergency helicopters to coordinate patient pickup and delivery, but offers no billing, charting or diagnosis.  emsCharts and Softtech formed a strategic partnership to enable their two programs to work together, and collaborated to sell the two programs as a unit. (more…)